Bri­ton Konta a fu­ture cham­pion, says de­mol­isher Ser­ena

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

MEL­BOURNE: It may be a mea­sure of the great­ness of Ser­ena Wil­liams that she can anoint a player a fu­ture Grand Slam cham­pion af­ter de­stroy­ing her in straight sets.

That is ex­actly what she did with Jo­hanna Konta yes­ter­day, hav­ing sent the Bri­tish ninth seed spin­ning out of the tour­na­ment with a 6-2, 6-3 thrash­ing in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

Sec­ond seed Wil­liams will con­tinue her pur­suit for a lon­gawaited 23rd Grand Slam ti­tle with a semi-fi­nal clash against Croa­t­ian vet­eran Mir­jana Lu­cic-Ba­roni.

Konta leaves Mel­bourne Park af­ter “one of the best ex­pe­ri­ences of (her) life” and with the ul­ti­mate com­pli­ment from Amer­i­can Wil­liams.

“She al­ways does re­ally well here,” Wil­liams said of 25-year-old Konta, a sur­prise semi-fi­nal­ist last year.

“She tends to do re­ally good in Aus­tralia. With her game, I def­i­nitely see her as a fu­ture cham­pion.

“All around, I feel like she’s a great all-around player. So I feel like I had to be on it all around to­day.”

Bar­ring 25-year-old Coco Van­deweghe, three of the four women’s semi-fi­nal­ists have reached their 34th birth­day, lay­ing waste to a pro­ces­sion of younger, higher-ranked women.

Wil­liams’s older sis­ter Venus, 36, will play fel­low Amer­i­can Van­deweghe in the other semi­fi­nal.

The three thirty-some­things have all suf­fered set­backs through their ca­reers, with the Wil­liams sis­ters over­com­ing health is­sues and Lu­cic-Ba­roni bat­tling back from a se­ries of per­sonal prob­lems, in­clud­ing al­leged abuse by her fa­ther.

“I’m just re­ally happy for Venus, ob­vi­ously,” the younger Wil­liams sib­ling said.

“She’s do­ing amaz­ing. I’m re­ally happy for Mir­jana, as well.

“Like I said, I was there when she first started. To see her able to never give up is su­per in­spir­ing. It’s a won­der­ful story,” the 35-yearold added.

“At the end of the day, it re­ally helps me to re­alise that you have to al­ways go for your dreams. So I feel like it’s just great.”

Ev­ery win at a Grand Slam tends to prompt re­minders about her longevity and vic­tory over Konta proved to be no dif­fer­ent.

She was asked how she felt about com­pa­triot Andy Rod­dick, the 2003 US Open cham­pion, be­ing in­stalled into the ITF Hall of Fame at the age of 34, hav­ing al­ready been re­tired for more than four years.

“I’ve kind of come to terms with that be­cause I’ve seen play­ers in the locker room that I’ve played, they’re on the leg­ends tour,” she said of the se­niors cir­cuit.

“I was older than some of those play­ers. I was won­der­ing, ‘should I be on the leg­ends tour?’ “– Reuters

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